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Sudan: Security forces kill anti-coup protester in latest crackdown

A 27-year-old protester was killed in Khartoum with a 'wound to the chest', says Central Committee of Sudan Doctors, bringing post-coup death toll to at least 79
A Sudanese demonstrator takes part in a rally to protest against last year's military coup, in the capital Khartoum, on 30 January (AFP)

Sudanese security forces killed a protester on Sunday as they cracked down on thousands marching for civilian rule, medics said, taking the number killed since last year's military coup to at least 79.

More than three months after Sudan's 25 October takeover led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, defiant mass rallies demanding a restoration of the transition to civilian rule show few signs of abating.

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"Blood is the path to freedom," flag-waving protesters chanted as they marched through the streets of Omdurman, which lies across the Nile River from the capital Khartoum.

"Go back to the barracks," protesters shouted at a heavy deployment of security officers who fired barrages of tear gas canisters, witnesses in the eastern state of Gedaref told AFP news agency. 

The coup, one of several in Sudan's post-independence history, derailed a power-sharing arrangement between the army and civilians that had been painstakingly negotiated after the 2019 ouster of longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir.

Sunday's demonstrations also took place in locations including the northern cities of Atbara and Dongola, and in Darfur in the country's west.

A 'wound to the chest'

In Khartoum, security forces blocked key bridges and sealed off streets leading to the presidential palace, as they have repeatedly during months of regular protests.

The authorities, who have rounded up hundreds of pro-democracy protesters in recent weeks, arrested a further 45 people ahead of Sunday's march, activists said.

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As demonstrators headed towards the palace, police fired volleys of tear gas, an AFP correspondent said.

A 27-year-old protester was killed in Khartoum with a "wound to the chest... by coup forces," the Central Committee of Sudan Doctors said in a statement, adding that it was not immediately clear what caused the injury.

Several protesters were seen suffering breathing difficulties and bleeding after being hit by tear gas canisters.

At least 79 people have been killed and hundreds wounded in the crackdown on anti-coup demonstrations, according to the independent group of medics.

Sudan's authorities have repeatedly denied using live ammunition against demonstrators, and insist scores of security officers have been wounded.

A police general was stabbed to death during the unrest earlier this month.

'We will not leave the streets'

Sudan, which was already in the grip of a dire economic crisis before the coup, has seen vital foreign aid cut as part of the international community's condemnation of the takeover.

The Sudanese Professionals Association, an umbrella group instrumental in organising the anti-Bashir protests and later the anti-coup rallies, vowed the demonstrations would not stop.

'Peaceful assembly and freedom of expression are human rights that must be protected'

- UN mission in Sudan

"We will not leave the streets until the fall of the coup regime - achieving a democratic state and holding to account all the murderers and those who committed crimes against the people," it said in a statement ahead of the latest rally.

The United Nations, which has recently launched talks between factions in a bid to resolve the post-coup crisis, has warned the authorities against using force to stop political protests.

"Peaceful assembly and freedom of expression are human rights that must be protected," the UN mission in Sudan said ahead of the protests, urging authorities to allow the demonstrations "to pass without violence".

That criticism has itself sparked protests, with thousands of pro-military supporters rallying Wednesday outside the UN's Khartoum headquarters demanding it leave Sudan.

Earlier on Sunday, the deputy head of Sudan's military-led Sovereign Council warned that the UN envoy should be working as a "facilitator and not a mediator". 

Washington has warned that a continued crackdown by the authorities would have "consequences".

The US State Department's Bureau of African Affairs said Sudan's military leaders had committed to dialogue to resolve the crisis, during a recent visit by senior US diplomats.

"Yet their actions - more violence against protesters, detention of civil society activists - tell a different story, and will have consequences," it said.                

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